Pratt Institute recently hosted the 16th annual LGBTQA College Leadership Conference on its Brooklyn campus. Students, faculty, staff and community members from Pratt and other area colleges came together over this year’s theme: “Breaking Out: Visibility and Inclusion in Leadership Spaces.”
The one-day event this fall brought together participants from colleges across the tri-state area to amplify the voices of the LGBTQA community and provide students (both identifying and allies) with leadership skills that provide resilience to address pressing issues of the day. This year, the conference, which has typically been hosted on a New Jersey college campus, came to Pratt for the first time, making it easier for members of the Pratt community to attend.
The conference opened with welcoming remarks by Dr. Esmilda Abreu, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Conference Chair; Helen Matusow-Ayres, Vice President for Student Affairs; and Nsombi Ricketts, Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The remarks were followed by a keynote from Jazmin A. Peralta, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, entitled “True Colors.”
The program also featured breakout sessions covering topics such as the intersection of spirituality and sexuality (Rev. Diana Wilcox), and better supporting LGBT students’ mental health (Donnalyn Scillieri). The conference came to a close with remarks from President Frances Bronet in the afternoon. Breakfast and lunch were provided during the day, and students were invited to participate in a poetry and spoken word open mic at lunchtime. The event also included a self-care/art space for quiet reflection, and a conference vendors fair.
The LGBTAQ College Leadership Conference is hosted by a consortium of universities including William Paterson University, New Jersey City University, Montclair State University. Hudson County Community College and Pratt Institute. The event was sponsored in part by The Ali Forney Center, an organization that provides housing services to LGBTQ youth, and Partners in Prevention, an agency dedicated to preventing substance abuse in Hudson County and New Jersey.
In addition, in honor of LGBTQ+ History Month in October, celebrating the 30th Anniversary of National Coming Out Day, the Philadelphia Pride flag was raised on Pratt’s campus for the first time. The Philadelphia Pride flag features two additional stripes in its iconic rainbow—one black, one brown—to recognize queer people of color and their historic contributions to gay liberation.